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tv   Washington Ideas Forum Day 1 Afternoon Session  CSPAN  January 2, 2015 6:14am-6:34am EST

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talk about how you figure that out as a problem and how the data help you solve it. >> we realize there was a definite disconnect between the demand for programmers on the one side. the companies want these people. these are great jobs. there are a lot of people that wanted to take a job and i could not figure out why the market had not solved the problem. education is broken, so the people who take this path and want to get one of these jobs can get routed into an educational institution that gives them a lousy education. that is not just people -- in the for-profits, but they are pretty terrible. there is no way for the learner to choose correctly, so they get screwed. the other problem is the companies themselves are hesitant to hire new programmers because new programmers can actually do damage. if i hire you and let you lose him a you could write a query and screw up my company. companies are only hiring people
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with experience, but if you only hire people with experience, you never get new people with experience. what we try to do that launchcode was to break this and negotiated with companies to bring talent in a way that does not engage in the company. i can take any firm that needs programmers and i can give the new programmers in a way that does not decrease their overall productivity. >> since we are in washington, we have to talk politics a bit. guilty pleasure of mine. one of the things that is so interesting about you, in any presidential cycle or race small business, both sides agree on helping startups, business. jim, you are the cofounder of square, which makes entrepreneurs everywhere. you talked about how you solved a problem in your hometown. why don't you run for office? >> and i'm here to announce -- >> [laughter] >> i have never really thought
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about politics because i never needed it to solve a problem. i see bigger problems. when it looks like a solution maybe i will consider it, but right now i am so neutral, it's amazing. i don't have any sort of political interests right now. >> anant, you are such a well-connected individual. i noticed you only follow 23 people on twitter. one of them is chelsea clinton to my yet you do not follow her mom. do you know something we don't know? >> i'm amazed, how did you know that? >> i do my research. [laughter] >> everybody knows everything about everybody. i was in a panel with chelsea.
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she has been doing some amazing work with education, children and others, and i follow her tweets, pointing out some interesting resources and so on. i do not follow politics too much, unless i see a politician that really wants to do something big and innovative and radical. certainly, when obama first came to the scene, i was blown away. i used to go around and said six years ago that he would be the greatest president. >> what about now? >> he is getting there. >> we are running out of time but i want to say, thank you so much for your time and i know that we will all be following you. i bet you will have a lot of those politicians knocking on your door because 2016 come education is a top issue. thank you. [applause]
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>> our coverage of the 2014 washington ideas forum continues with inventor dean kamen. he discusses the state of american education and the efforts to get kids more interested in science, math, and internet -- and engineering. he is interviewed by "atlantic" senior editor rebecca rosen. this is about 20 minutes. >> hi, dean. thank you for joining me here. why don't we start by you talking about what it is you have done, what you have seen since the year began? >> let me start by what it isn't. it's not an education program. 25 years ago, as today it is a topic that most serious people are pretty concerned and passionate about. parents, teachers, corporations, government, but the prevailing concern is we have an education crisis in this country.
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i am an inventor. what do inventors to? they look at the same problems everyone else has and see that differently. it is really quite silly to imagine that america has an education crisis. we have more schools at the university level, more money spent on education and the rest of the world combined. it is not an education crisis, it's a culture crisis. it's not a supply problem. it is a demand, or lack of demand problem. we have a culture that is free. even kids are pretty. in a free culture, you get the best of what you celebrate. kids celebrate sports heroes and movie stars. 25 years ago i said, why don't we form an organization, and not for profit, that uses the powerful model of sports and entertainment him about the context is not bounce, bounce, bounce, throw. that is not a useful skill set for all but a few people.
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if we can make science and engineering as fun and accessible and attractive to kids as the other things they conspired to do, we will change their attitude change the direction of their life i'm a particularly women and minorities that really, our culture convinces them by the time they are 10 years old science and engineering is boring, esoteric, and only for white guys. you heard a lot of people talk about this issue. unless we can get our culture reenergized to be passionate about inventing, solving problems, working hard at things that matter, we are going to become what we deserve to become. >> the basic idea is how do you create a demand for that science education. >> first was setting up a single goal create demand particularly among women and minorities, to excel at something that could be a career choice for them. we claim we have a job shortage in this country. that's not true. we have a skills shortage.
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i have a little company with 600 engineers and i have 100 openings. every tech company i know would kill to get more people. we do not go around any major university -- go to any place where they are doing genomics, code, nanotechnology, advanced materials, everybody is desperately looking for smart people. technology has moved so quickly and unfortunately, our education system has not kept up with it, and we are seeing a problem. i think even the political rhetoric is insulting. we need jobs for kids. nobody gets up in the morning wanting a job. we want a career, we want to do something exciting. kids should accept you have more than a job and we should give them the skill sets to exceed in those -- exceed in those dreams. >> what do you see excite kids now, what has changed since this was established? what is there for them and what is making them -- >> we have some actual academic
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longitudinal studies founded by people like the brandeis university's, but we have tens of thousands of anecdotal fax kids that go through first are dramatically more likely to stay in school, to go on to college to study science and technology. 25 years does not seem like a long time in the scale of a country or a big company. four years is an entire generation of high school. the one that started 25 years ago went through college and high school, now out either working at some of our rate sponsoring companies or starting their own companies. we had 23 teams impede in year one. last year we had 35,000 schools from 81 countries and 180,000 volunteers as mentors for these kids. most companies would like growth like that. >> this year it will be in january. >> this year, we expect to hand
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up close to 40,000 kids. we have 182 universities sponsored. $125 million in scholarships handed out at the championship in a 76,000-c dome in st. louis. we will be bigger and better as here. >> that is great. i would like to talk about some of the ways in which science and technology, particularly through your work in prosthetics -- the real ramifications in people's lives that you can see and that you have, in fact, brought about. i want to hear about your work in prosthetics and how you got into that and what you have seen in the past few years, test changed? >> most things i cannot tell you how we get into it here and life does things for you. the prosthetics, i was minding my own business, which is rare for me, doing my day job, mostly
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making medical equipment dialysis equipment, insulin pumps. that is my day job that funds my fantasies like water and power and first, not for profits. i get the virtual knock on the door from the department of defense and darpa and a very passionate kernel who happened to be coming back on his fourth or fifth trip to afghanistan and iraq. by the way, this kernel is a neurosurgeon. there he is at my office saying i cannot believe it, at the end of the civil war when a soldier lost his arm, we put a wooden stick with a hook on it. now look at the technology we give these young people to defend us but when they lose their arm to an ied, we give them a plastic stick with a hook on it. these young people deserve more than that. and you are going to deliver it. and then he described, he wants full capability, fine motor
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control he wants to flex at the wrist, elbow abduct, flex at the shoulder, fully autonomous completely self-contained, caring its own power, and be done in two years. >> makes you appreciate how complicated the arm is. >> i'm happy to say that we delivered on something that i think they were excited about. we made a second generation and we now have them on about 30 soldiers. [applause] >> have you got to meet with the people using them? >> oh, yes, and it is astounding. but the most astounding thing to me, i don't know what our backgrounds are, but the rest of my life is mostly medical equipment, and no matter who you put it on, people have had an issue, they need their artificial organs, they need dialysis. people inevitably feel like victims. they feel entitled.
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they feel, as i would, afraid and sorry for themselves. they could be 90 and they need then the replace so they can play tennis. these young people put these arms on and without exception they think they -- sit there, thanking you. i have never seen a group of people so committed and so passionate. they are not despondent, not angry or depressed. most of them want to go back and help their buddies. an astounding group of people and you just feel good that you can help them. [applause] >> one of the things i heard you say in one of your ted talks is that this is not about the technology but the people and the stories. what do you mean by that, how does that motivate you in your work? >> like is short. every day, i work hard. every day among frustrated,
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because i don't get enough done. i decided a long time ago that if i was going to go to bed every night and did not succeed at least i can work on problems that were very difficult. then you do not have to feel so bad. nobody else did it either. if you fail at something and somebody else can do it, you are done. -- dumb. the other thing that makes me work on medical stop, again, life is short, you want to make sure that you work on something meaningful. there is so much technology out there and frankly, a lot of technologists spend their time making nonsense. life is too short to take beautiful, natural stop, and make nonsense out of it and waste your time. working in the medical field working on our water systems electric generation systems maybe helping in this country in terms of environment and security -- i have to believe
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the stuff i'm working on, if it works, will be a good -- big deal for the good. >> can you talk about that article generation system? >> it is odd, this morning, they had david crane here. i don't know how many people know him, but he is the ceo of the largest coal burning entity in the u.s. and yet, he is taking a leadership edition in energy by saying, this cannot continue. we told him about a small appliance we were making that you could put in any building, tie it to a natural gas line or propane, any place that has a hot water heater or furnace is already prewired for this device, like a home appliance the size of a refrigerator or smaller. it will turn 20% of whatever the fuel you are putting in directly into electricity and give the rest of it to you as hot water or heat. you build a few million of these
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things and they become a significant piece of base power and taking power in the u.s. there is a guy who you would think, i am the devil incarnate and he said, i want to support it. he didn't and we build these units for him and we are going into our next generation. i have been in rooms with wall street people saying, why are you supporting this and his answer is, well, the future has to go some way different than the past. i would rather be on that bus than under it. i think he sees big entities having their kodak moment and he doesn't want to be one of them. >> where is the generation system being used today, what have you seen done with it? >> we build a couple of dozen of our latest version one running in his home. we are testing them in the industrial environments commercial environments, residential environments.
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again, if they become scale, i think they have the chance due to coal plants what pc's did to mainframes. >> any fuel can be used? >> anything that can produce heat, we can turn into clean electricity. >> people are using that electricity for lights, refrigeration, what kind of uses do you see as the most prominent need? >> electricity is about the highest form of energy, whether it is for your computers -- electricity drives pretty much everything else. the byproduct and waste of electricity is heat. the tv monitor is hot. >> you have hundreds and hundreds of patents. can you talk about the ones that stand out to you as the ones that mean the most to you or that you think can inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists, to demonstrate what
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can be done with the kind of skills you are hoping to instill through first? >> that question is either, what is the technology that we develop that i like best -- i have been asked that question. i don't have kids, but i can imagine it is like asking a parent which of your children you love the most. you put an arm on one single marine, there is no business there, i hope there is never a big market for these things. i hope a few hundred is enough. on the other hand, you make any insulin pump that a few million people can live with, or we have delivered a quarter billion therapies with our home parent neil dialysis machine. some of these things scale. some of them are for the one person, but if it is for that one person that needs it, you cannot compare. my say this statement, and i
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believe it, when asked, what is your favorite invention -- our water machine, if it works could supply clean water to a few billion people. just giving people clean water would wipe out 50% of all human disease. but my long answer to what is your favorite thing -- and i'm not politically correct. i don't know because it has not happened yet. people that look back at what was the biggest and best are mentally, if not physically old. young people look forward. young people always want to do better at the end of the day. old people want to hold onto what they have. i made a deal with peter pan a long time ago, i'm not getting old. i just keep looking forward. [applause] >> we have not talked about water filtration machines. can you talk about how it works
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and where you are using it today? >> about the same size of our electric generator, which is also made to do with the fact that 20% of the people that we are dealing with never had electricity. we complain when we lose power for a few minutes. there are 20% of people that have never use electricity. how are they going to become productive parts of the global environment without access to the internet or computer or communication, or lights at night? the probability that in our lifetimes able wake up in the small distributed places transmission lines, switching stations, isn't that nice -- it's not going to happen -- any more than they have land lines. but once the cell phone became cost-effective, the marginal cost -- africa, 400 million cell phones. what if we could make a small box, just like cell p


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